How big was the March for Life? Here’s how one pro-life group came up with a massive total

Katie Yoder   By Katie Yoder for CNA


Students for Life of America estimates that about 150,000 people attended the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022, based an analysis of a video of the marchers. / Screen shot of Students for Life of America video

Washington D.C., Jan 26, 2022 / 03:00 am (CNA).

Pro-life Americans recently traveled from across the country to attend the 2022 March for Life. Despite the pandemic and local COVID-19 rules, marchers gathered in numbers comparable to years past, leaving people to ask: How many marched for life?

The nation’s largest annual pro-life event in Washington, D.C., is held on or around the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. While the march condemns abortion every year, marchers exhibited a new momentum on Jan. 21, as the Supreme Court considers a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.

In other words, the 49th march could also be the last.

While neither the March for Life nor the police provide specific numbers, organizers estimated that tens of thousands attended the 2022 March for Life, in a statement to CNA.

Another pro-life group made a more exact estimate: roughly 150,000 marchers. Students for Life of America (SFLA) made the estimate by reviewing footage from their timelapse video capturing the entire 2022 March for Life. They shared the 45-second clip just hours after the march concluded.

“We froze a frame of the timelapse, counted all the people individually, and multiplied that by total frames,” Lauren Enriquez, deputy media strategist for SFLA, told CNA.

Ahead of the 2022 march, organizers guessed that 50,000 Americans would attend, in their permit application. After the event, news reports estimated anywhere between “thousands” and “tens of thousands” of Americans attended. SFLA stands by their 150,000 estimate.

“The Pro-Life Generation showed up in force to remember the sisters, brothers, friends, classmates, children, and neighbors lost to abortion in our lifetime — millions of priceless, beloved individuals who should be here with us today,” Enriquez told CNA. “We also showed up to represent the nearly five decades of activism and hard work that have led to this truly historic moment of potentially reversing Roe.”

She emphasized the resilience of the pro-life marchers.

“What’s more is that those thousands and thousands of marchers, young and elderly, braved sub-freezing temperatures to be out there,” Enriquez added, commenting on the harsh weather that day. “Their sacrifice is a testament to the unshakable fervor of this generation — and this moment. We are ready for a Post-Roe America!!”

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  1. Most of us Catholics note with disapproval and so rightly correct Evanglicals when they call themselves Christians to distinguish themselves from Catholics, mainline Protestants, and Orthodox. They forget that by doing so they have misappropriated the term Christian which actually refers to a wider group reality beyond themselves and that we Catholics make up the Church that is in fact the original, genuine, and complete Christian Church having been founded by Jesus Christ himself. This analogy of what can be called misappropriation of term also reflects the reality of the use of the term Pro-Life by the movement when semantically it is at most simply Pro-Birth or Anti-Abortion by its adherents’ almost – not complete – exclusive fight and care for the unborn while forsaking the born who also face premature deaths from various forces of death, who precisely were the ones prioritized by Jesus himself in his life and ministry as can be read in for example Matthew 25:31-46, the socially excluded like: the poor, orphans, widows, homeless, hungry, immigrants, imprisoned, etc.. The movement should be properly called Pro-Birth and the march, Walk for Birth.

    • Emphasizing the full range and depth of Catholic teaching about life is, of course, vital and necessary. But your approach here is unconvincing.

      When I was a Fundamentalist, I certainly thought many mainline Protestants and all Catholics were not true Christians. But as an Evangelical (in my early 20s), I recognized that was incorrect. Now, it could be that there are a significant number of pro-life folks (Catholic and otherwise) who give short shrift to the full scope of Christian teaching about caring for the poor, etc. My experience, however, is quite contrary to that. For example, my parents, who remain fundamentalists, have always been incredibly generous in helping out the poor, widows, etc. I see the same sort of generosity and charity among pro-life Catholics; in fact, they usually seem much more interested in walking the walk than talking the talk.

      But, the fact remains, protesting abortion and standing up for life, which begins at conception, is indeed pro-life. (To say it is merely pro-birth is something akin to Nestorius insisting that Mary is really only “Christokos” and not “Theotokos”, as if her part in the Incarnation was somehow lacking.) Yet “Gaudium et spes” flatly states:

      For God, the Lord of life, has conferred on men the surpassing ministry of safeguarding life in a manner which is worthy of man. Therefore from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes. (GS, 51)

      And St. John Paul II’s great encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” (pars 58-63) makes it clear that standing against abortion is to stand for life. For example

      Among all the crimes which can be committed against life, procured abortion has characteristics making it particularly serious and deplorable. The Second Vatican Council defines abortion, together with infanticide, as an “unspeakable crime”

      But today, in many people’s consciences, the perception of its gravity has become progressively obscured. The acceptance of abortion in the popular mind, in behaviour and even in law itself, is a telling sign of an extremely dangerous crisis of the moral sense, which is becoming more and more incapable of distinguishing between good and evil, even when the fundamental right to life is at stake. …

      Furthermore, what is at stake is so important that, from the standpoint of moral obligation, the mere probability that a human person is involved would suffice to justify an absolutely clear prohibition of any intervention aimed at killing a human embryo. Precisely for this reason, over and above all scientific debates and those philosophical affirmations to which the Magisterium has not expressly committed itself, the Church has always taught and continues to teach that the result of human procreation, from the first moment of its existence, must be guaranteed that unconditional respect which is morally due to the human being in his or her totality and unity as body and spirit… (EV, 58, 60)

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